Supporting workers in a time of crisis: Key steps for governments and employers
Canada’s unions are calling on the federal government and its provincial and territorial counterparts to provide immediate income support to workers in self-isolation, quarantine or who are addressing child care needs.
Income support will be critical to minimizing the economic impact of COVID-19.
In addition, the Canadian Labour Congress is calling on all governments and employers to take every step necessary to protect the health and well-being of workers, including health care workers who are on the frontlines of this public health emergency. These measures include:
- Permitting flexible work arrangements, telecommuting, video and teleconferencing, ending non-essential travel, and postponing unnecessary meetings and events.
- Providing paid sick leave under short-term disability and sick leave plans while maintaining drug coverage.
- Providing 14 days paid sick leave for workers under prevailing federal, provincial and territorial labour standards to cover the quarantine period.
- Waiving any requirement for a doctor’s note to permit sick leave.
- Prohibiting coronavirus testing as a condition of continued employment.
- Working with Service Canada to take full advantage of the improved EI Work-Sharing Program to minimize layoffs.
- Working closely with health and safety committees and unions to provide accurate and timely information to employees about accessing benefits and support.
- Providing compassionate care and bereavement leave support to employees, as well as mental health counselling and support.
Specific to health care workers, employers should, among other things:
- Provide an adequate supply of appropriate N95 respirators on hand as well as PAPR (for aerosol-generating procedures, e.g. intubation) and other personal protective equipment.
- Conduct a risk assessment to determine all points of potential entry (and how to restrict them) and other points of potential exposure for workers (e.g. screening, triage, isolation rooms).